As we ring in 2018 and make plans for the exciting year ahead, I think it is important to take time to look back over the past year and celebrate all that has been accomplished. 2017 wasn’t e2e’s first year, but it was a time when we picked up speed. Looking back, I can’t help but be thankful for our community and the partnerships that made it all possible.
January 2017 saw the launch of Startup Grind, a forum focused on letting successful entrepreneurs tell the story of their journey. Throughout the year we had eleven such mentors come out and share their ups and downs and lessons they learned along the way, and Wichita embraced this program. More than 1,400 people attended the twelve 2017 Startup Grinds, making Wichita a leading community in this global network of events. Our dedicated committee of volunteers and our community have reason to be proud.
In February, e2e’s Accelerator partnered with WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and launched a new program: LaunchPrep. LaunchPrep is a mentor-driven program focused on early-stage companies. In 2017, there were two sessions of LaunchPrep and thirteen companies completed the program. It will be amazing to follow these entrepreneurs and see the great things they accomplish in the years ahead.
2017 saw the launch of another exciting program at e2e called Powered by e2e. Powered by e2e is the incarnation of e2e Accelerator’s commitment to be a collaborative and inclusive organization accelerating the Wichita entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s our way of supporting sustainable independent programs that bolster entrepreneurship through fiscal management, physical space and in-kind human capital. June was an exciting month for Powered by e2e. It began with our first ever FuturEpreneurship Expo, held in collaboration with Wichita Festivals and the Grumpy Old Men. The Expo featured hands-on entrepreneurial activities for children and showcased the abundance of Wichita’s youth entrepreneurship organizations and opportunities. June also marked the third year of Marquetta Adkins’ Camp Destination Innovation, an entrepreneurial camp for local high school students. As part of Powered by e2e, the camp was based out of e2e’s incubator, which allowed for amazing interactions between the students, e2e staff and entrepreneurs co-working in the space.
e2e’s Incubator also branched out in 2017. To further embrace our educational mission, a dedicated group of e2e supporters got together and decided that there was more we could do to help local private investors. In September, the first session of i2i (Investor to Investor) was launched. This program is led by seasoned investors willing to share their knowledge and experiences with private investing, helping to provide newer investors with the tools they need to feel more confident and comfortable in this growing arena.
October brought together another collaborative opportunity for local co-working spaces and entrepreneurs. Co-working Wednesdays happen every week after 1 Million Cups at either the Labor Party, e2e’s Incubator or Groundworks. They provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to work in the co-working space for free and feature a lunchtime presentation aimed at sharing individual expertise and fostering collaboration.
Finally, 2017 saw Wichita’s first celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week. During November 13-17, our community reimagined Accelerate the Heartland as a week of events designed to promote local entrepreneurship. Accelerate the Heartland was a true community event, featuring four of its own events drawing on all aspects of our entrepreneurial community and bolstered by five partner events focused on entrepreneurship.
Overall, 2017 was a fast-paced and inspiring year for entrepreneurship in our community. We at e2e have big plans for 2018, but I’m even more interested to see what exciting things our partners and our community will bring to the table as we all work to build our ecosystem and our economy.
Brandy Willett is manager of operations and the e2e Incubator at e2e Accelerator. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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